Hydrogen Cars

Ever wonder why automobiles aren’t running on hydrogen fuel cells?

The answer is complex and also part of the long skein of sponsored fantasies about flying cars and, now, tunneling cars.

But the most important reason was explained recently by Richard Truett in Automotive News:

There is one part of the fuel cell that no automaker company ever talks about: high-volume production. That’s because most of the fuel cells built for automobiles today are hand-made by technicians.

photo of fuel cell technician

As of 2018, Toyota was building about seven Mirai fuel cell vehicles per day, all by hand.

The news Tuesday of General Motors’ deal with startup truckmaker Nikola provided no details about the technology GM plans to embrace to crank out fuel cell stacks quickly and with zero defects. The stack, you will recall, contains membranes and thin metal plates, and much like the cells in a battery pack, the more the cells are stacked in a fuel cell, the more electricity it will produce.

In manufacturing terms, this is as close to brain surgery as we’ve ever seen in a powertrain component. Not only is there no room for manufacturing tolerances — every internal component must fit and align perfectly for the cell to produce the correct amount of electricity safely — but the production site has to be free of dust, dirt and anything else that could contaminate a fuel cell membrane.

It is going to take a huge and economically viable fuel cell to produce enough electricity to move a fully loaded Nikola semitruck down the road at highway speeds. It won’t be economically efficient to assemble the stacks in these trucks by hand.

Automotive News, September 08, 2020

This, of course, also raises the question of what happens to fuel cell arrays in automotive collisions. The elementary facts there can’t be good, either.

You aren’t going to be seeing these things any time soon.

Liquid Fuels of the Future!

Joe Biden has announced his climate plan!

As anybody who understands power in the USA would’ve predicted, it is actually a plan to perpetuate, rather than move away from, the catastrophic-but-profit-gushing reign of our #1 GHG emitter: automobiles.

If you doubt this, consider this multiply revealing plank of the plan:

Doubling down on the liquid fuels of the future, which make agriculture a key part of the solution to climate change. Advanced biofuels are now closer than ever as we begin to build the first plants for biofuels, creating jobs and new solutions to reduce emissions in planes, ocean-going vessels, and more.

Yes, “and more.”

This is just a complete and absolute whopper, as well as a dead give-away that the other stuff in the plan about requiring “electric” cars and trucks is also prevarication. If we’re going all-EV, Joe, why do we need a bunch of “new” liquid fuels?

“Alternative” liquid fuels, of course, are also less, not more, green than gasoline, notwithstanding the slick propanda campaigns of Exxon Mobil and its corporate cousins, which are apparently about to pay their dividends, by greasing this particular rail.

The assertion that “advanced biofuels are now closer than ever” is simply a straight, unadorned lie. Whoever wrote that line has a very large karma problem coming.

Brainwashing on Facebook

You want a real case of Facebook knowingly selling space to evil mind-controllers? Here is a straight-up FB lie from your friends at ExxonMobil:

algae ad image

There is a zero percent chance that algae or any other bio-fuel is going to replace current petroleum use. No entity in the world knows this more surely than does the ExxonMobil corporation. Yet, this is what it wants you to think it believes.

None of this, of course, should lend aid and comfort to the liberal-green delusion that the fossil fuel corporations are our main problem. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Our actual problem, however, is bigger and deeper: cars-first transportation and other key forms of unending commodity-maximization.

Corporate capitalism, in other words.

California Dreaming

California aspires to obtain all its electricity from renewable sources, 27 years hence. The great fly in the ointment? As always, corporate capitalism’s lifeblood commodity, the private automobile.

The reality is that the U.S. automotive fleet is now the nation’s #1 domestic GHG emitter, out-GHG-polluting not just each of the economy’s other four end-use sectors (farms, retailers, factories, households), but also the entire electricity-generation industry. And the gulf will only widen.

ghg graph
Source: Bloomberg Finance LP 2018

All unmentioned and unmentionable, of course…

ExxonMobil’s Propaganda

With all due respect to legions of well-meaning McKibbenite activists, our problem is cars and corporate capitalism, not fossil fuels. Nevertheless, it is true that, because of the continuing reign of cars, some very powerful corporations enjoy spectacular privileges, including outsized influence on our minds. In order to perpetuate this remunerative arrangement for as long as possible, these corporations do engage in rank, fully-knowing propaganda. To wit, this little ditty from ExxonMobil, which runs frequently on corporate TV:

Gosh, Exxon, if your scientists have unlocked algal oil as a source of automotive fuel, why the wait? Why “someday”? Why not now?

The answer, of course, is that algae are absolutely not a potential source of meaningful amounts of automotive fuel, now or ever. This is due to the nature of algae and the laws of physics. Trying to make them so would require converting the entirety of the nation’s arable lands to alga bogs. ExxonMobil knows this full well, yet hires marketing agencies to sell the direct opposite claim. Such is the foundation of “our” economy.

EV ROFL from NYT

snake eating own tail The New York Times editorial board today blithely states the two foundational axioms of the quasi-official “liberal” view of sustainable transportation: 1. That it is an important topic, so long as the alternatives are cars, cars, or cars. 2. “Electric” cars, if somehow fully implemented, will somehow be sustainable.

ROFL times a million.

Meanwhile, the million-and-first laugh is that one of the NYT’s main complaints about existing trends is that the GHG emissions of the US transportation sector have now surpassed those of the electricity-making sector! In response to this event, the paper of records calls for us to continue using 95-percent-idle, 4,000-pound piles of complex materials for our everyday locomotion, but to do so by making them run on electricity!

Orwell didn’t get the half of it. In market totalitarianism, Doublethink is not only beyond rife, but spouted by the elite without the smallest hint of second thought.

Fiskernomics

carfire The desperation of the overclass to preserve cars-first transportation, the lifeblood of corporate capitalism, is suggested by the story of Fisker, the recently imploded attempt to produce viable “electric” (meaning coal, nuclear, and natural gas) cars.

According to Automotive News, not only was Fisker “allowed to keep using money from a U.S. Energy Department loan after violating its terms multiple times,” but the Fisker corporation spent $660,000 for each car it managed to produce.

No More Fisker Vapor

nihil Stick a fork in the Fisker boondoggle, despite its quarter-billion-dollars in public gift-money. Per Automotive News, here’s what underlies today’s termination of the entire productive labor force at Fisker:

The embattled automaker has retained crisis communications firm Sitrick and Co., based in Los Angeles. Sitrick issued today’s statement on behalf of Fisker.

Reuters reported last week that Fisker also had retained the law firm Kirkland and Ellis to prepare for a possible bankruptcy filing. Earlier in March, company founder Henrik Fisker resigned citing “several major disagreements with management” over the company’s business strategy.

Fisker has built about 1,800 units of its $100,000 Karma plug-in hybrid, but none since battery maker A123 Systems declared bankruptcy last summer, leaving Fisker without a battery supplier.

Meanwhile, the nation’s (pathetic) public transit systems continue shrinking while in budget-crisis mode, as TPTB push for still more public “research” into this stillborn century-old “EV” pipedream.

What a huge cancel-fuck: Just as physics won’t permit a car that isn’t wildly unsustainable, so corporate capitalism won’t permit anything but more efforts to cancel that uncancelable reality.

National Academy of Fantasy

Dig the front cover to the new study on Transitions to Alternative Vehicles and Fuels, by an elite panel at the National Academy of Science:

nas-book-cover

Charged by the powers that be with studying not the possibilities for building a sustainable transportation infrastructure but merely the prospects for making the U.S. auto fleet somewhat less wasteful, the cover’s admission that efficient cars are vaporware is a classic Freudian slip.

Meanwhile, here’s a sample of the level of thinking involved in this dutiful little scam. Why are automobiles so unusually important in the USA? The panel’s explanation:

With the automobile being by far the dominant mode of transportation for most Americans, facilitating auto travel has been a major part of DOT’s mission.

See? The auto is dominant because it is dominant! Science lives!

Cellulosic Vapors

vapor cloudRemember all those promises that things like tree fiber, switchgrass, and cornstalks will soon be rendered into fuel for automobiles? It’s called “cellulosic ethanol.” Its production has been subsidized and mandated for years now.

The latest turn of events is simply humorous: As commercial production of the stuff remains at zero, the EPA is refusing to take a physics-based/EROEI “no” for an answer:

The cellulosic ethanol standard earned the most criticism. A federal court last week tossed out the agency’s requirement for cellulosic ethanol for 2012 as too onerous.

There was no commercial production of cellulosic biofuel last year, but that did not deter the government: It proposed raising the mandate to 14 million gallons from the 8.65 million gallons that was tossed out in court.

“The court recognized the absurdity of fining companies for failing to use a nonexistent biofuel,” said Bob Greco, a director of the American Petroleum Institute. By seeking to nearly double that quota, “EPA needs a serious reality check.”